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Lava or Not, Exoplanet 55 Cancri e Likely to have Atmosphere

16 Nov 2017, 16:38 UTC
Lava or Not, Exoplanet 55 Cancri e Likely to have Atmosphere

Twice as big as Earth, the super-Earth 55 Cancri e was thought to have lava flows on its surface. The planet is so close to its star, the same side of the planet always faces the star, such that the planet has permanent day and night sides. Based on a 2016 study using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists speculated that lava would flow freely in lakes on the starlit side and become hardened on the face of perpetual darkness. The lava on the dayside would reflect radiation from the star, contributing to the overall observed temperature of the planet.

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